A recent Orlando Sentinel editorial slammed state Attorney General Ashley Moody for her opposition to the language for a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution banning certain rifles.
The Sentinel also went after the National Rifle Association (NRA), claiming the pro-Second Amendment group’s lawyers indulged in “wordplay” to have the Florida Supreme Court keep the proposal off the ballot in next year’s election. Ban Assault Weapons Now is leading the charge to add the amendment to the ballot. For it to be added to the Florida Constitution, 60 percent of voters need to approve of it.
The proposed amendment defines assault weapons as “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in a fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition feeding device.” The amendment would also have owners of the weapons on the proposed ban list be forced to register the gun with the state.
But Moody has insisted the amendment’s verbiage is misleading and should not be on the ballot. While staying out of the debate on whether or not the amendment should be passed, the Orlando Sentinel insisted the issue should be decided by the voters, not by the Florida Supreme Court.
But having the Florida Supreme Court try squash proposed amendments isn’t new in Florida. In 2004, pro-lifers pushed for a constitutional amendment that that would require minors looking to get an abortion to have parental notification. While the amendment was passed by voters, before it made the ballot, pro-choice groups argued in front of the Florida Supreme Court to oppose it going to voters. NARAL Pro-Choice America insisted the ballot language was “misleading.”
In 2012, the Florida Legislature moved forward with the “Florida Abortion Amendment” and placed it on the November ballot. The amendment would have banned the use of public funds for abortions except as required by federal law and to save the mother’s life. Pro-choice group Vote No on 6 opposed the amendment, insisting its language of was “misleading.” Florida voters shot down the measure on the November ballot.
Because of the Parkland and Pulse shootings, the Orlando Sentinel insisted voters should be able to weigh in on the proposed amendment. The Sentinel pointed to an August poll from Politico/Morning Consult poll which showed 70 percent of voters support banning weapons as defined in the proposed amendment, insisting with this much public support, the NRA doesn’t want it to move forward and Moody “is in on it.”
But when it came to citing polls, the Orlando Sentinel and gun control groups fail to note that almost half of Americans have concerns when it comes to registering guns with the government, which is included in the proposed amendment.
In August, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that almost 50 percent are concerned that the government will go too far when it comes to gun ownership.
In October, a Pew Research survey found that almost 50 percent of Americans believed that new gun control laws would lead to fewer mass shootings.
If the debate is about banning certain guns, then we should have it. But for media outlets to be “outraged” proposed amendments to the state Constitution should be shot down because the language is misleading is not uncommon here in Florida.
Ed Dean wrote this opinion piece. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.